Versions tested: Xbox 360 and PC
Italians, people of saints, poets and ... gamers. It seems to be precisely the latter the peculiar characteristic of us inhabitants of the Bel Paese in this decade that has just begun.
If Ubisoft paid tribute to our country with the creation of Assassins Creed 2, this push seems not to have run out yet, so much so that even Deck13 wanted to set their Venetica in the famous Venetian capital. That Italy is turning into a new digital Cinecittà? Before enjoying the great consideration for our culture, however, it is necessary to analyze what are the results that land on our screens, in short, what is the quality of the role-playing game created by the German developers: an experience that makes the chest swell with patriotic pride or a disappointment to forget?
Between mines, canals and sewers
Venetica is presented as a role-playing game with fairytale and parody features, a style made famous by Lionhead's masterpiece Fable 2. The inspiration to Peter Moulinex's creature is evident from the very first minutes of the game: a world that is a caricature of himself , the light-hearted nature of the dialogues and the use of a deliberately self-deprecating register cannot but convince us that in Germany they greatly appreciated the work of the Lord of the Channel. Venetica's adventure starts following the peculiar characters of the fantasy role-playing game: an assault on Scarlett's native village spoils the serene flow of everyday life and takes away the life of the man loved by the protagonist. These events force the girl to take up arms to carry out a mission greater than her, a journey that leads to the city of Venice following the directives of Death himself, here as not the last enemy to be defeated but as an ally and even father figure. What the grim reaper asks of us is to thwart the plans of a necromancer that threaten to lead to the now classic destruction of the world as we know it. In order to be successful in the thankless task Scarlett has to resort to her dormant dark abilities, which obviously we will have to awaken in the course of the game; it is then up to the player to decide whether to pursue the final objective along the path of altruistic good or whether to abandon himself to the fury of revenge. Thus said the narration of Venetica does not seem to deviate too much from the standards of the genre, an honest story, an excuse like any other to pick up the sword and reap enemies to accumulate experience and level up, in short, the minimum necessary to offer the player a plot on which to write their own story via a digital alter ego.
Something is missing, however, or rather the mechanism of this whole mechanism immediately appears not very smooth, the spring of the desire for adventure struggles to spring and with this also the thrust of involvement. To weigh in particular is the absence of a side dish, of a superior and painstaking care that can enhance and make enjoyable that world and that history that alone do not seem to go anywhere. Walking around Albion is a unique experience, Fable offers a world with its own peculiar identity and this unique imprint goes to incense the gameplay of the product itself. In Venetica all this is not present, the vast city and its surroundings appear as large empty containers, Ezio's Venice is light years away and in particular the inhabitants in their stillness and in their few and skimpy lines of dialogue have no character, they are alone of mission distributors (at best), no one has a story worth hearing. If the task of creating a game environment is done very well on paper, one cannot be satisfied with a body without a soul, not with a game that takes many hours to complete.
Never feel at home
It is within the Venetian city environment that the heart of the adventure develops. Once you reach your destination, in fact, an ever wider range of available quests and portions of the map opens, represented by the districts of the city that gradually become explorable. The missions intersect with each other in a rather dynamic way so as to transform subquests into fundamental pieces to complete the main vein of the story. Let's face it, the offer of tasks it proposes Venetica does not deviate from the standards of the genre and suffer, in the case of secondary quests, from the chronic lack of originality typical of optional objectives, so it would be unfair to blame the game for this when even the most famous and historical titles fill hours of play with assignments of low thickness.
Rather, it is evident that this time it is no longer enough to offer the player honest subquests; when the outline that should enhance every more banal action in the game world is missing, you realize that even the offer of the usual package of adventures is no longer enough to keep the involvement high. Without the dreamlike beauty of Albion, the devastated and decaying glimpses of Fallout 3 and without a population that seems alive and active in the surrounding environment as an incentive, there can be an incentive for the player to carry yet another object from one place to another. of the map or to clean up one of the many haunted houses? If the beauty of a role-playing game lies in the feeling of being part of something, of helping to make the gears of everything around us move with each of our smallest actions, with Venetica this possibility of estrangement is denied to us by an approximate work on the whole background. The acting of the non-player characters is insipid, almost non-existent, the sensation of talking to digital dolls is always present, the city has nothing better to offer than, despite the noble name that bears nothing, it has nothing to do with the Venice known with the adventures of Ezio in Assassins Creed 2 and the merciless confrontation certainly does not concern the technical aspect, albeit subdued. Scarlett does not move between the villages of a splendid city of art but in a container devoid of thickness and charm, with a level design that assumes a minimum of coherence and logic only of the cramped underground dungeons while the places of greatest interest such as squares and the markets boast just a handful of characters to haggle with via the dedicated menu.
Xbox 360 achievements
Venetica gives away just over half of the thousand points up for grabs by finishing the game once without any special precautions. It is essential to undergo all the workouts, while it is necessary to finish the game a second time with a different alignment for the relative objective.
A guild is forever
We said that Scarlett will have to mature her innate skills during the game, the latter are divided into physical abilities and magical arts. The first are the special shots that can be used with the various types of weapons available, namely: swords, sickles, hammers and spears. Each weapon has different special shots that can be unlocked by spending experience points in a classic tree diagram, among these there are also passive skills that will permanently increase the offensive skills of the protagonist. Analogous speech for the spells, linked largely to the world of shadows, an alternative dimension that Scarlett can cross in order to take advantage of the portals present in it, sometimes useful for solving simple puzzles. The other arcane abilities have a purely offensive character and require a consumption of mental energy and a subsequent recharge time to be performed. The number of skills is considerable and it is possible to assign the most used ones to the directions of the d-pad and to the B key, unfortunately soon there is the need to be able to have many more skills at hand, a problem solved only in the PC version by a long customizable bar at the bottom of the screen. The combat system makes simplicity its strong point by attributing to a single button the physical attack function that can be linked in simple combos but which combined with the careful and providential use of dodging and the same skills manages to give satisfactions. The decision whether to forge a protagonist more prone to physical combat or to resort to magic is up to the player's free choice and will be enhanced by the choice of the guild to join. The guilds of the city are three in all, each with a greater predisposition for the use of weapons, necromancy or the formation of potions and trade. The choice is rather small to tell the truth and does not distort the narrative so much that it does not present great narrative crossroads.
Boasting such a high potential setting it was to be expected from Venetica a first-rate graphic creation so as to enhance the entire production. Sorry to see that even in this respect expectations have been betrayed, the polygonal modeling of the characters is really crude, as well as their animations often unrelated to each other and clumsy in rendering. The textures are poor in effects and the lighting, despite the day-night cycle, is static and often even unreal in closed places,
also uninspired are the lighting effects of spells and abilities. During the game we also encountered numerous rather annoying glitches, such as stuck characters or bad interactivity with the environment, a symptom of a rather approximate refinement work while the Xbox 360 version suffers from poor optimization found in numerous and drastic drops in unjustified framerate by the always modest on-screen action. Certainly the technical aspect is the one that most of all betrays the nature of Venetica, a project born on interesting premises but which did not materialize well in the development phase, the inspiration for masterpieces like Fable2 can only make it even more It is clear how serious is the lack of a refinement work of all the game components that thus inevitably go to form, each in their poor implementation, a whole that fails to exalt the player in any respect.
As compelling and interesting in potential as it is banal and subdued pad in hand, Venetica it seems first a tribute and then a parody to an entire genre. A role-playing game that does not know how to tell its story, fails to thrill, to involve, does not offer a world in which it is worth dedicating a considerable number of hours transported by the spirit of adventure and a genuine and childish feeling of estrangement. . It is not worth diving into the world of Venetica, a lifeless world, where our passage seems to have no influence on it, a sad and ugly world to look at. Certainly not enough a combat system that is not revolutionary but at least interesting in its simplicity, slightly mortified in the console conversion but still functional and pleasant to manage. It's not enough on its own to add depth to Scarlett's adventure, it's a real shame but the competition is fierce.
- Simple and intuitive combat system
- Large number of skills and spells
- If you are looking for a fairytale RPG, there is Fable 2
- If you are looking for a game set in Venice, there is Assassins Creed 2
- Technically very insufficient
PC System Requirements
- Processor: AMD Athlon64 X2 4200+
- RAM: 4 GB
- Video Card: ATI HD4850 512MB
- Windows XP SP2 or Vista
- Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or equivalent
- Geforce 6600 GT or equivalent with at least 256MB of memory
- 1GB (XP), 1.5GB (Vista x86), 2GB (Vista x64) of Ram
- 10 GB of hard drive space